Time to get your input on something, a news article about a trial in Florida. Here are the essential details:
NYT -- A Florida judge has agreed to pay a cosmetologist $125 a day to hide a defendant’s facial tattoos because they would be “prejudicial” in his trial. John Ditullio sports a large swastika tattoo on his neck and a crude insult on the other side—among other tattoos on his face and neck. Upon the motion of his defense attorney, the judge ordered the tattoos covered with make-up in order to preserve Ditullio’s right to a fair trial. Ditullio is charged in a double stabbing that injured one and killed another. He acquired at least some of the tattoos since his arrest for the 2006 incident. [See here for full story.]
So, I have instituted a poll and would love to know what you think. If you were the judge, would you have granted the defense request for a make-up artist, or would you have denied the request? Feel free to post (respectful) comments justifying your ruling.
Some things to consider, perhaps:
1. Potential jurors would, most likely, form some negative opinion about the defendant because of the tattoos. (In my last trial a panel member asked to be excused because he said he'd made up his mind from the defendant's appearance. He was struck by agreement of both parties.)
2. In voir dire, both sets of lawyers (and the judge) would get a chance to test those negative opinions, and ask potential jurors if they could set them aside and judge the case on the evidence alone.
3. From the last line of the story, it looks like he got some tattoos while knowing he was going to trial - has he thereby waived an objection to the prejudicial nature of his tattoos?
4. $125 for some make up? Seriously? That's a crime, right there. . . !